Date Archives August 2010

Two Seasons Hotel by JDS Architects

Earlier this month, the Two Seasons Hotel in Stavanger, Norway opened to the public.  Designed by Julien DeSmedt Architects, the “6 floor hotel was built on top of a 5 floor existing parking garage giving an extra challenge to the structure. Here, 194 hotel rooms float in a ribbon configuration around an inner courtyard. The hotel rooms have been lifted from the street to secure privacy and a quiet environment for the guests, and to activate the ground floor with a bar, lounge, restaurant and lobby. On top there is a green roof including a roof terrace with a beautiful view over Stavanger city and the harbour.”

Full disclosure: I worked for JDS in 2007, and I am excited whenever I see that the firm has either won a competition or completed a project. Over the past three years, JDS has managed to expand from Copenhagen to Oslo and Brussels in spite of an unfavorable building economy. Although smaller, and less formally flamboyant than the pending Holmenkollen Ski Jump, projects like the Two Seasons seem reassuring in an economy that makes projects scarce. But the Ski Jump does have  something the Two Seasons doesn’t: a flash game where you can virtually jump.


Space Suit of the Week

‘Sup nerds? Check your adult diapers, because this week we’re having a Space Suit underpants party. No, we won’t be moonwalkin’ in our skivvies, but we’ll take a look at how fancy long underwear keeps Spacefolk from suffering thermal extremes that would otherwise freeze and scorch them. Earlier, I commented that “the technical requirements of space suits are tremendous. In the vacuum of space, these suits recreate the protection that our entire biosphere offers, only these suits compress that protection” to about the thickness of a halloween costume. Maintaining a safe body temperature is one of the technical requirements any viable space suit must satisfy.

The average temperature in space is about three degrees above absolute zero, but when you get close to cosmic hairdryers, like our sun, it can get balmy.  How balmy? Well, take what the weather is like on earth’s moon: -240 degrees in the shade and 230 degrees in the sun. Half of your flesh is toasty while the other half is frigid. (This ignores what would happen to your body as a result of the lack of pressure. hint: water on your tongue and eyeballs boils).

A sight for sore eyes is the Liquid Cooling Garment, or LCG, which circulates water around small polyvinyl chloride tubes embedded in long, spandex underwear to conduct heat away from the astronaut’s body.  See them?  (Those aren’t pee tubes! In fact, astronauts wear superabsorbant diapers on space walks, although that hasn’t always been the case.) The water is re-cooled via a heat pump and re-circulated to keep the astronaut’s body temperature from rising as body heat accumulates inside the space suit.

That’s why you can’t really dress like an astronaut for halloween without a diaper.

I guess the hood is optional.


Nicholas Chalmers

Australian artist Nicholas Chalmers should definitely receive top points for innovation. Rather than taking the more conventional route of exhibiting his latest work in a gallery, he has modified the back of a truck to transform it into a travelling art space. The exhibition, which is charmingly titled “Ze Frog & Toad”, will be visiting Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in September 2010. Although I am not a trend forecaster by any means I’d like to tip that the road trip/art exhibition is going to be the next big thing.

Unfortunately, Chalmers will not be bringing his nomadic art show to my neck of the woods, but if he did I would be more than willing to get into the back of a truck to check out his quirky and graphic style.

To keep up to date with further developments, check out “Ze Frog & Toad” blog.


Put This On, Episode 3: Work

The dudes from Put This On are back with a new episode, this time centered around what to wear to work. Dressing up at work can be hard, especially when none of your coworkers think twice about wearing the saem t-shirts twice in one week. That’s where these guys step in to give some tips and advice on dressing up and maybe even instill a bit of confidence to get you dressing up more often.


Trailer for AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’

To say that AMC is leading the pack in innovative television programming that might be an understatement, this coming from a guy who doesn’t even watch TV. But with their successes with Mad Men, Breaking Bad and now Rubicon the network is certainly making some great decisions with it’s original content. So the fact that they’re turning The Walking Dead, one of the finest comic books out there, in a series is amazing.

I’ve been reading The Walking Dead for a while now, I even posted about it a couple years ago, and it’s definitely a top notch story. Where you might think it’s just a standard zombie story it’s actually a human drama that just happens to have a bunch of dead folks walking around. The real dangers of their world are the people they run into, not knowing their stories, their experiences and their motivations.

The trailer looks extremely hopeful, the zombies are totally creepy and the environments they’re running around in don’t look fake or CGI. Could this be a Battlestar Galactica for zombie fans?



Last week, I watched an excellent but eerie movie titled Moon. The story involves a solitary lunar miner who is eagerly approaching the end of three year contract extracting energy from the crust of the moon. And then things go wrong. Directed by Duncan Jones, Moon stars Sam Rockwell along with Kevin Spacey voicing a robotic computer. Jones says that he wanted to make the kind of science fiction film he grew up watching… movies like Alien and Silent Running. One of the more remarkable things is how it was received by scientists at NASA Space Center in Houston.  Jones recalls a Q&A where a space scientists asked “why the base looked so sturdy, like a bunker, and not like the kind of stuff they are designing that they are going to transport with them. I said ‘Well, in the future I assume you won’t want to continue carrying everything with you, you’ll want to use the resources on the moon to build things’ and a woman in the audience raised her hand and said, ‘I’m actually working on something called Mooncrete which is concrete that mixes lunar regolith and ice water from the moon’s polar caps.'”


‘À bout de souffle’

At the age of nineteen I was formally introduced to a man who would be the object of my enduring affection for many years to come: Jean-Luc Godard. After all, what self-respecting lady doesn’t fancy a bad boy at some stage of her life? The subversive and anarchistic dimension of Godard’s personality shines through in his films, all of which reveal a philosophy that is highly complex, anti-tradition, fiercely critical of social mores, slightly misanthropic, verging on misogynist, politically unorthodox and unapologetically unconventional. His first feature film, À bout de souffle (Breathless) was originally released in 1960 and undoubtedly changed the way cinema is both viewed and made.

Breathless is a story, not a thesis. A theme is something simple and vast that can be summed up in twenty seconds: vengeance, pleasure.  – Jean-Luc Godard

As a member of the new breed of film critics writing for Cahier du Cinéma, Godard’s shift to filmmaking was inspired by the theories established through la politique des auteurs and was particularly concerned with “destroying all the old principles rather than creating something new. It’s more like Picasso’s work, destroying everything rather than creating in a new direction.” Significantly, representations of Picasso’s Cubist works are visually referenced in Godard’s cinema, thereby drawing attention to a new mode of viewing that juxtaposes high and low culture and is intensely intertextual. What sets Godard apart from his other contemporaries in the French New Wave – such, as François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol – is his innovative mode of cinematic deconstruction.

Paying a loose homage to American film noir cinema of the 1940s, À bout de souffle focuses on a suave French gangster (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and an American expatriate (Jean Seburg) living in Paris. The narrative itself is hardly ground-breaking, but Godard’s approach to fracturing cinematic conventions is incredible. Cohesive montage is replaced by jump cuts, abrupt editing and hand-held camerawork, and studio settings are rejected in favour of location shooting, improvisation and natural light. Cinematographer Raoul Coutard, whom Godard would collaborate with on subsequent films, captures the restless energy of 1960s Paris with a beautiful sense of abandon, precariously shifting from a romantic perspective to hopeless desolation.

Godard’s quirky visual signatures are accompanied by a similarly turbulent soundtrack that utilises unexpected rhythms and overlapping sound, and even features the breakdown of the “fourth wall” when Belmondo speaks directly to the camera, and thus the viewer. Although the film aesthetics are playful, irreverent and pose a complete disregard of tradition, they also exemplify the mood of the time when the film was made: the rise of youth culture, the spread of American pop culture, a new-found sexual freedom and a liberated approach to living.

Every time I watch À bout de souffle I am reminded of why I love cinema, why I tend towards striped shirts and why I wish I were French.


Moshun by Calango

Yes, Yes, Yes.  According to Calango’s website site, Jeroen Krielaars “does not have body enhancements.” But he doesn’t need them, because the man’s a genius! His animated alphabet is called Moshun and you can watch it build itself over and over here.  Elsewhere on his website, you’ll also find these fantastic posters that demonstrate his interest in geometry. Just go look at his work, it’s great.

But if you’re being sneaky at work just watch this video for now.